Square Enix Responds To Modern Warfare 2 English Voice Acting Criticism

By Spencer . December 4, 2009 . 2:01pm

imageIn Japan, Square Enix is the publisher of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Unlike other West to East releases they didn’t skimp on localization. The Japanese version is completely localized and even has Japanese voice acting – something fans over there are, to put it lightly, disappointed with.


Famitsu got in touch with Square Enix who explained the considered a dual language release with the original English voice acting. However, Modern Warfare 2 was built to support one language and changes to the game’s engine were deemed “risky.”


One of Activision’s goals with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was to make it accessible to FPS newcomers so they produced a localized language track, a feature that Tetsu Takahashi, the man behind Fallout 3’s Japanese localization, said was important. In the end, Square Enix believes they made the right decision because the Japanese language track widened the game’s fanbase.


What’s interesting is this debacle is parallel to what happens here with some Japanese games and fans that want original voice acting. See, there are gamers in Japan that envy the unlocalized, uncensored copy of Modern Warfare 2 sitting in a store near you.

Read more stories about & & & & on Siliconera.

  • Well, they really shouldn’t whine – the Polish localisation is probably the worst official localisation EVER…

    • cowcow

      I would make a Polish joke but….it’s too easy

  • Wow! It’s almost comforting (I think that’s the right word) that fans in Japan are sticklers to dubs, too.There are a couple “Americana” shops (I think in Akiba) that would carry the U.S. version of the game, so that might mend the wounds a bit.

    • Tokyo Guy

      The two shops in Akihabara, practically right next to each other, are horribly overpriced. One is typically $20 over the retail price in North America, and the other is usually $30+. Considering they aren’t even paying the retail price to get the game (i.e. their “distributors” are cutting them a deal such as how it works the other way around) that is always a HUGE profit margin.

      I’ve long since switched over to Play Asia.

      • malek86

        You import games from outside Japan? So, how much does it cost?

  • nyoron

    Now they know what it feels like! Ha!

  • Well, according to regionfreexbox.com MW2 is region-free so… they could always import.

    • malek86

      And also the fact that games cost far less in the US. However, though I’m not sure, I think Japan, being a mercantilist country and all, doesn’t like importing.But I’d like to hear more about it from someone who actually knows something about it. So, how easy/hard is it for japanese people to import games from outside?

      • nyoron

        I couldn’t speak for people actually importing a game themselves online or whatever, but in Akihabara there are at least a couple of shops that specialize in carrying American versions of games (as matty mentioned above).

        • malek86

          How expensive are they, usually?

          • nyoron

            Pretty comparable to what the game would normally cost in Japan, I think. Here’s the website for Game Hollywood http://www.gmh.jp/usgametop.htmThey’ve got MW2 listed for ¥7,980, which I believe is the same as the MSRP for the Japanese version.

          • malek86

            Considering the value of the dollar, that’s a pretty high price, even if we included shipping.

            That said, shop importing has always been expensive, for us too. How about personally importing? Do customs screw you badly?

          • nyoron

            Ah, I wouldn’t know about actually importing or customs. I don’t live in Japan or anything, I’ve just visited a couple times.

  • FireCouch

    And I bet there are still people here in the U.S. that would DIE for the Japanese voice overs.

    • Rol

      Meh. Original voice all the way. Japanese games get Japanese, American get English and Russian get Russian (I am looking directly at you 1C).

  • Pichi

    Sad to hear it. I wonder if SE paid for top VAs or just low tier ones. I’ll be a bit shocked if it was top VAs and many fans were still disappointed.

  • thaKingRocka

    couldn’t the ps3 version, with its much-touted 50 gigabytes of disc space, contain both versions of the engine available for selection at start-up? i find it strange that the movie business in japan is so successful with english audio and japanese subtitles, yet they wouldn’t consider it “accessible” for a game aimed at mature audiences to employ this approach.

  • JohnCasey1

    I always thought SE USA only treated its fans like turd….but looks like SE Japan does as well! Who whudda thunked it! :D

  • It’s kind of odd being on the opposite side of the fence this time, lol. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one among a handful of other people in my own country who don’t like dubs 99% of the time though :P

  • Aoshi00

    While a full voice localization is commendable and many gamers certainly don’t like to “read while playing the game” unlike movies where you could concentrate on reading subtitles, I certainly understand many would enjoy a media that is presented as closely to the original format as possible. Like who would want to watch Pan’s Labyrinth or Amelie dubbed in other languages other than original Spanish and French respectively. Again the solution? Just don’t leave out the original track and give people the option. The dub vs sub war should be long over considering anime dvds have been having that for over a decade now..

    • thaKingRocka

      though i’ve always sided strongly with the sub crowd, the technology made the war unnecessary ages ago. it’s not just that dvd allowed multiple audio tracks. even television broadcasts have had alternate audio tracks for years. i can switch the simpsons over to spanish any time i want. i don’t do it, but i can. i never understood why adult swim didn’t use the alternate audio channel for japanese.

      • Aoshi00

        Exactly, that’s a very good example. Many countries have had dual lanugage broadcast since the 90’s, namely for Hollywood movies, dubbed in their own language or in original English dialogue w/ subtitles. It’s almost 2010 and we have Blu-ray, this isn’t the 90’s where one had to decide to collect an anime series on VHS tapes (26 eps on 13 tapes, $30 per tape!) in sub OR dub, sub vs dub has long been rendered moot. There’s no reason people should need to defend their preference as both have their merit and it depends on context and taste. Now I’m no expert in programming, but I don’t think this is that hard to do given enough space. Speaking of The Simpsons I sometimes switch to Spanish too just for fun since I’ve watched the same episodes a million times alrdy. I bought this one Jpn Simpsons DVD that has 4 episodes and it’s quite wacky. Of course I doubt many of those American pop references would click w/ the Jpn audience even when they are directly translated. It’s fun to hear nonetheless.W/ the story being US soldiers fighting terrorists in the middle east or Russia, of course no one would want to listen to the game dubbed in Japanese. All the modern military terms originated from English. But again, this depends on the individual, some might want to forgo “authenticity” for the sake of convenience.

        • Interesting. I’ve never heard of dual audio tracks for broadcast television. How would you even access it? Maybe it’s only for certain parts of the US?

          • Aoshi00

            It should be for the whole US, there should be a button on your TV remote to change to SAP (second audio program) from stereo, for programs that have been dubbed in Spanish like the Simpsons. At the beginning of a show a SAP icon would come up. In Hong Kong and other parts of the world they have something called NICAM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NICAM), I remember it was prevalent in the 90’s, so one could watch Hollywood movies broadcast on TV in original English or dubbed in Chinese, provided your TV is NICAM equipped. So one minute Arnold speaks w/ his funny accent, the next he speaks fluent Cantonese, lol.

            We should have something like that for Adult Swim like someone suggested. Also there’s no excuse for games on Blu-ray to not have dual audio if disc space is allowed.

  • I’ll probably quote this story every time in the future I read on a forum someone saying that all Japanese-origin games should have dual audio localization. If SE Japan, who has WAY more resources than any NA localization firm, wouldn’t do dual audio because it doesn’t want to mess with the engine, why do people assume that it must be a piece of cake for NISA or Atlus USA to do it?

    • Pichi

      Depends on many factors. From programming/hardware limitations to getting the Japanese rights to use it, it really should be looked at all angles. And who knows the other factors we don’t even know about.

      • Cost, time, auditions, directors (for dub and the original if they want to take it that far), approvals or go-aheads from various people, etc. That is, if the process is the same as for anime dub. There really is A LOT of work surrounding it if they’re gonna do it right.
        As Aoshi00 mentions above, people wonder why dub/sub is still an issue. If the actors and documentaries are anything to go by, it’s mainly time and the money they put into it, on top of the process of securing a license (I was surprised that shows were being dub by a companies that hadn’t even fully purchased the rights, yet).
        Of course, there are many factors to pile on, especially with the lousy business dub companies have been having to deal with in recent years. A few anime publishers are leaving out dubs now, which really sucks, but it is understandable. As long as people are getting work, I’m all for it.

        • Well it all goes back to the idea that designing for localization needs to happen at the very beginning, before the game is complete. I’m just sick of people blaming the localization firm for now doing multi-audio when the issue is much more complex. It’s like asking if you can swap out the transmission unit in my car, why can’t you install both transmission units?

  • Haha wow, this is hilarious. It really is pretty eye-opening when you see people in Japan voicing the same complaints we do 80% of the time. All of a sudden, I feel more in touch with our Japanese brethren.

    • epy

      I know where they’re coming from with this. I would also want to play the game with the original voices that were made for it.

  • just as some of us ocidentals like the original japanese voices as an option , the japanese themselves also have that right … why not include both an make everyone happy no?

  • Pichi

    I also heard that the translation/localization wasn’t up to par, especially in that controversial level and other issues within the game.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos